WATCH: Ancient Stone Carvings Unearthed at Archaeological Site

by Craig Garrett
(Photo by ISMAEL ADNAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Researchers in Iraq dedicated years to excavations, which led to the opening of an unprecedented archaeological park full of stone carvings. According to a news release from the Kurdish-Italian Faida Archaeological Project and the University of Udine, an ancient irrigation canal stretching over 6 miles winds its way through the Faida archaeological park. This particular canal is lined with stone carvings.

The archaeological park, which is the first of its kind in Iraq, opened to people on October 16th. Thirteen stone carvings were revealed by archaeologists in the park, who say they date back to 700 B.C. during the time of Assyrian King Sennacherib or his father, Sargon II. Bekas Brefkany, from the department of antiquities in Dohuk, Iraq is hopeful for more findings. “Perhaps in the future others will be discovered”, Brefkany told France 24.

The stone carvings – each around 16 feet long and a little over 6 feet tall – show the same scene again and again, according to the park. The scene depicts a parade of seven main Assyrian deities with unidentified Assyrian kings at either end, experts say. Images of the finds have been shared on YouTube.

The Assyrian gods along the stone carvings

The Assyrian gods on the carvings are as follows. Ashur, riding a dragon or horned lion. Next is his wife Mullissu on a decorated throne. Then there’s Sin, the moon god, on a horned lion. Hollowing her is Nabu, the god of wisdom, riding a dragon. Then there’s the sun god Shamash, the weather god Adad, and Ishtar, the goddess of love and war. The figures march in the direction opposite to how water flows through canals today. This is instead presiding over the now dry and dusty landscape.

The 2,700-year-old stone carvings have withstood damage from both weathering and manmade sources, experts said. The Faida archaeological site seeks to guard and maintain the “unique” location against future deterioration, researchers explained. Iraq is presently home to some of the initial civilizations in existence today, including the Assyrians, Sumerians, and Babylonians.

Faida is a small, oil-rich town located in Kurdistan – an autonomously governed region of Iraq. It sits about 285 miles northeast of Baghdad.

After centuries of rule, the Assyrian Empire fell in the late 7th century BC. This was to a coalition of Babylonians and Medes. Though much destruction occurred during the conquest, ancient Assyrian culture and traditions were kept alive throughout the years that followed.

Assyria experienced a time of growth during the Seleucid and Parthian empires but then decreased in size under Sassanian Empire. The ancient Mesopotamian religion was still being practiced at Assur until it was eventually sacked in the 3rd century AD. Out of all the extant ancient Assyrian literature, most originates from the Neo-Assyrian Library of Ashurbanipal. This library once held more than 30,000 documents.